Done some cool service work? Here’s how to include volunteer work on your resume.
How to Include Volunteer Work on Your Resume
One of the most frequent concerns my career coaching clients express- whether they are professionals changing careers or recent college graduates- is having enough experience for a new job.
- The seasoned professionals fear that they are locked into their present field.
- The recent graduates have little job experience to show on their resumes.
What to do?
Show volunteer work!
I tell them: Volunteer work can be recorded on your resume in the same way that you showed your other work experience.
Here is how to include volunteer work on your resume.
1) Get started: Make a list of service work that you have done in recent years. This work can include:
- Community organizations
- Church or religious organizations
2) Give each service you have done a *job title*. This can be unofficial as in *Sound Technician at Town Holiday Events* or officially-given names *Treasurer for Snerdlyville Community Church*.
3) Write a job description for each volunteer job title. As in any job experience, you will use these tips:
- Describe your jobs in terms of:
- problems solved
- challenges overcome
- results and positive impact for the organization or community. Make clear what was changed by your work
- note that it was a volunteer (unpaid) position
- Include numbers, if possible, such as “Created program to feed 20 families in neighborhood weekly” or “Helped 10 troubled youth graduate each year”.
- Note #hours you spent in total for a single project or weekly hours for more ongoing projects.
- Include action verbs. This post includes some *power words*.
- Include job-specific words. Look at the job description for the position you want. Catch the keywords that are important to the job. If the organization you are hoping for uses Applicant Tracking System, the keywords will help your resume get flagged for a viewing by human eyes (otherwise, the ATS will simply pass it by).
- If you can specify the percentage of time you spent on each of the tasks you describe.
- Don’t forget to include dates of service (just like you do on any job experience).
4) Add your new volunteer experiences to your career experience section of your resume. Simply integrate the volunteer positions into your job list.
5) Tweak your resume so that you have several versions. For each position you are interested in, adapt the resume by removing volunteer positions that have nothing to do with that job. BUT don’t sell yourself short. When in doubt, include the volunteer position (as long as you are still on a one-page resume required by many hiring professionals).
I remind my clients that while we often volunteer to make the world a better place, we also reap the reward of making our resumes *better places, too*.
You can get started with your own career-change exploration by downloading: Trail Guide to Career Exploration for Adults.